Starla Garcia

Starla Garcia

Long-distance racing takes stamina and perseverance.

Starla Garcia exuded these skills as a collegiate cross-country athlete—skills she learned from her father, who shelved his own dreams of a doctoral degree to take care of his family.

Garcia is now employing perseverance to help underserved populations outrace the health problems they face in places like the colonias along the Texas-Mexico border, where she grew up.

Garcia has been able to use her experiences and understanding of the Latino culture in the work she does as a member of the Hispanic Health Coalition in Houston, Texas. She also is pursuing a master’s degree in health education at the University of Houston.

She applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program—which offers a five-day summer institute and internships to encourage master’s-level students and health professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and a cancer research career—to get information and advice on becoming a competitive candidate for a doctoral program.

After attending, Garcia said she now feels she has increased confidence to pursue a doctoral degree.

And the experience added to her sense of belonging to the Latino culture.

“Being part of Éxito! has help me realize how strong and connected Latino communities can be. I have learned how much we are able to pull together through hardships and help one another overcome challenges,” Garcia said. “The relationships formed during the Éxito! Summer Institute have expanded my vision of what others need in their Latino communities. Through respect, trust, and understanding my Éxito! friendships have also solidified my future personal goals to become an individual that is dedicated to the wellbeing of my Hispanic culture.”